Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Square-foot Greens

For the last three years we have been trying to grow quite a bit of our food.  We use a mix of traditional style row planting for some things and the Square-foot gardening technique for others.  Spring is a busy time - this year we started many of our seedlings from seeds using two cute plastic green houses to keep them warm in the house and protected from our cats who like to munch on certain greens.  One of them is now out on our porch starting the hardening-off process.  On the top shelf of the greenhouse you can see our sweet potato slips that we are trying to grow for the first time this year.  Sweet potatoes require 100 day growing season and here in Ontario we have about 139 days if we are lucky so it is a bit of a challenge. I overwintered the vines from cuttings from a friend and then re-cut the vine a few weeks ago so that they will start to root.  Each root should produce a few sweet potatoes.
Remember those sprouts back in March in the cold frames?  We have been enjoying lettuce and spinach from the cold frames for the last month.  In a few weeks I'll pick all the lettuce that remains and add new soil to the boxes and plant them with tomatoes and peppers.  We have struggled to grow peppers in the last couple of years with chilly weather so this year they are going up against the house on the south side to give them as much heat as possible.

Jerry tends to take care of the veggies in the traditional beds - the garlic, potatoes, vines, strawberries, asparagus.  I look after the Square-foot beds.  We have 11 4x4' boxes and 4 1x4" beds for vines.  I don't follow the Square foot method completely - I trucked in good garden soil to start with and we add manure and compost to it each year.  We constructed the boxes from leftover timber from  the building of our home - many pieces are falling apart this year and so we will need to come up with something more permanent.  I use string to divide the boxes - it takes up less real estate and the more space you have the more plants you can grow.  When I plant the seeds I use vermiculite in the holes, then the seeds, then more vermiculite as per the original Square Foot book.  It makes it easy to see where the seeds should come up and the Virgo in me loves the tidy, neat look of the gardens - at least for the first few weeks.